Posted 28 April 2011 - 08:13 PM
Christ is risen! Христос воскресе!
My name is Melaniya. I was originally baptized Catholic as an infant with the name Molly and requested the priest give me a Orthodox saint's name when I was chrismated into Orthodoxy as an adult.
Our merciful God has so blessed my life with His grace, through the trials and joys He allows, and especially through the presence of His saints and the guidebook for salvation we are given in the Orthodox church.
I live in the country outside St Petersburg, Russia, having emigrated here about 20 years ago from the US. The Lord took control of my heart when I was 15 years old and first read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The 19th century Russia he described seemed to call to me and I couldn't rest until I made my first trip to Russia in 1990. At that time I had been practicing as a homebirth midwife for a few years and had the crazy idea that the combination of a new post-perestroika Russia and delivering babies side by side with Russians would have incredible potential for the transformation of souls... And so that's what I did for about 15 years, working with small groups of brave young American women, assisting even braver Russian women to give birth with joy inside the Russian medical system.
Even as a girl in America I felt that our life of abundance and striving for material gain was all wrong, and that what a person needed in order to get closer to God was suffering. It was with this burning sense of spiritual necessity that I left my husband and came with my two children to Russia, in the early post-Soviet period, when there was no food on the shelves of the stores. For some unexplainable reason I had an irrepressible need to experience the Russian soil, in which thousands of Orthodox Christians who sacrificed their blood. At the same time I was cognizant of my own sinful nature, and the sins of my ancestors as inherited by me. In my heart there arose a continuous longing to repent, not only for myself, but for all the world. It became apparent to me that Orthodox Christians everywhere needed to repent for Russia, if she was to be forgiven for the horrors of the last century; that the prayer and repentance of each one of us matters for each and every other one, whether in this world or the next.
Over the course of the first years in Russia In 2005 I stopped taking interns and started devoting my time to the church, to my children and to my rapidly growing practice as a homeopath.
In 2001 I started singing in church choir and immediately appreciated the saying, "singing in church is twice praying." Singing the prayers and reading them, as the case calls for it, became the deepest joy of my life. It took me about a year to start reading and singing easily in Church Slavonic and it's amazing how only this ancient language carries, for me, the full depth and meaning of the prayers. One feels a sense of the entire Byzantine world in its varied tones, shades, and ethnic influences, carried through to our time in an uninterrupted chain of believers.
I spend most of my time doctoring the sick with the help of homeopathy - a method favored by many saints of the past century, including St. John of Kronshadt and St. Ignatius. The main goal of my therapeutic work is that a person comes to God; if I have in any way assisted him to that end, I feel my strivings are not in vain. Hundreds of sick come to me from all over Russia every month, with every imaginable illness, from eczema to cancer. This work is my obedience.
My husband is Russian and was contemplating the monastery when God brought us together, not without the help of St. Spiridon of Trimifunt. We are blessed to spend our summers on Corfu, Greece, in the company of St. Spiridon.
What each one of us needs is the courage to make a podvig, an act of spiritual heroism. It seems to me that only through such a life can we move just a small bit in direction of restoring the image of God in which we were created.
It is so wonderful to find this community.